Saturday, August 20, 2016

Editor's Tribute To Car Designer Michael Burton

Car designer Michael Burton - who was the only black car designer that worked for all of three of the Detroit-based automakers - Ford, Chrysler and GM, recently succumbed to cancer, after been stricken with the disease multiple times. I learned of Burton's last bout with the disease after receiving a text from him stating cancer was found in his back. Days after receiving the text, I connected with him live for a brief moment, while he was in the hospital undergoing an early morning treatment. He asked if he could call me back.

After a few weeks of waiting for his call, I realized I needed to reconnect with Michael. So, I attempted to leave a voice mail message, since I was unable to get him live. Unlike the previous times, his phone was not accepting messages. I thought this was highly unusual, but I did not put much thought into it, at the time. 

Then, days later, after sending several texts to check in on him, I never received a response. This was highly unusual for Burton to ignore my texts and not respond. I decided to do a quick Google search and what I knew in my heart was finally confirmed. Yes, cancer had taken the life of another good solider. I did not realize when we spoke several Sundays ago that would be my last time speaking with Michael.

Ironically, during my bout with cancer, Michael was the one who pulled me aside, asking if it was alright if he prayed for me. At the time, he did not realize how I appreciative I was. However, over the years once I got to know him better, I reminded him of how much that meant to me, especially since I was literally terrified, but tried to stay composed. And I always reminded him he was a cancer fighter and that he overcome any obstacles that were placed in his life.

Michael will definitely be missed. He was the first car designer I got to know personally. I can still remember the first time I was seated next to him at a private dinner and he silently mentioned to me how he compared the shape of the Buick Enclave to that of the human form of female body. Yes, that was the beginning of my introduction to the world of design and car designers.

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